We have at St George’s a magnificent organ made by the firm of Hill Norman and Beard (HNB).
It was built in the early 1900s and first installed in the Odeon Cinema, Knightsbridge, however it was never intended to be a typical cinema organ (think Reg Dixon and the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool). It is, however, a wonderful example of a HNB church organ.
It was moved to Toddington in 1957 and has provided sterling service ever since – that is until now. The bones of the organ, the pipes etc., are all in excellent condition but sadly the old electrical control system which arrived with the organ from the Odeon Cinema, has finally reached the end of its life. We urgently need to replace the entire electrical switching and control systems within the main body of the organ.
A start has been made, in that a redundant three manual console has been acquired from Newcastle Cathedral and that just needs refurbishing and will eventually be connected to the pipework by a solid state system.
The organ, as it is at present, is a shadow of its former self, with only two of the three manuals being usable and many stops also not being usable owing to the wiring within. I would say that about 40% of the instrument is out of action. Many of the pedal notes, played with the feet either do not work or are held up with elastic and drawing pins. Often notes just appear from nowhere and the trumpet stop likes to have a say without being asked to do so, as do other notes and stops which often join in the chaos just for fun and are then very reluctant to go away again!
The organ is at the forefront of worship in the Church and as such deserves to be in the best condition that it can. At present, as well as being used for weekly services, it comes into its own at weddings and funerals, but could be used a lot more for concerts, recitals and for teaching purposes.
When refurbished, we believe the organ at St George’s will easily be a match for a few other wonderful organs in the area and will be an instrument that we can all be proud of and enjoy.”